Archive for the ‘Clayton schools’ Category

Georgia’s only Milken winner this year: “I am my students.”

Milken Educator Shekema Silveri believes her classroom has to be healing place for her students. (AJC photo)

Milken Educator Shekema Silveri believes her classroom has to be healing place for her students. (AJC photo)

When Clayton County teacher Shekema Silveri won the Milken award last month, the most prestigious prize in education, another teacher commented to me, “That’s her ticket to a better job anywhere she wants.”

Silveri won’t be cashing in that ticket, saying she is where she was called to be — with students who thrive on her love and support.

“I want students who actually appreciate a teacher who loves them,” she says. “I would not be in my element in a school where students said, ‘I don’t need a teacher to love me because I have two parents and a nanny.’”

Silveri’s deep affection for her students at Mount Zion High School in Jonesboro takes many forms, from cautioning them at the start of the weekend, “Come back to me safely. I love you,” to daily texts to a teen whose mother died three years ago, “Good morning princess, God loves you, and …

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Here is promised video of Mount Zion High teacher winning her teaching “Oscar” today in Clayton County

Thanks to the Milken folks and DOE for sending me this video of Clayton County teacher Shekema Silveri learning this morning that she won the prestigious Milken Educator Award. Please watch the entire video as it is very reaffirming and uplifting. I love the chant, “We, MZ, love Silveri.” (Share it with your kids; mine are sitting here with me watching it for the third time. And now they are saying the chant, too.)

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Clayton teacher wins prestigious Milken Award. Congrats to Shekema Silveri.

Milken Award winner Shekema Silveri (Clayton schools)

Milken Award winner Shekema Silveri (Clayton schools)

Called the Oscar of teaching, a Milken award went this morning to stunned Mount Zion High School teacher Shekema Silveri. Silveri teaches English/Language arts. She is the only Georgia teacher this year to win the prestigious teaching award and its $25,000 prize.

(If I can get video of the surprise announcement at the high school this morning, I will post.)

Here is her bio information from the Milken Family Foundation:

Shekema Silveri is a natural leader at Mt. Zion High School in Jonesboro.. Bringing to the table an extensive community service background and first-rate academic credentials, Silveri employs multi-layered instruction and well-defined practices, all in a school with a large at-risk student population.

In the classroom, Silveri requires students to produce evidence of learning, justify their perspectives, evaluate their reasoning and set their future goals.

As part of her well-rounded approach to …

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CRCT scores are in: What do they tell us this time?

The state released state CRCT scores by system today, with strong metro performances by students in Cherokee, Fayette, Decatur and Buford.

Clayton and Atlanta had some of the lowest scores.

The longer I report on education, the less comfortable I am with test score results, which often speak more to the affluence of the families in a district than the proficiency of either the schools or the teachers.

I think a fairer comparison is to juxtapose scores in systems with similar socio-economics. If you are interested, here is the AJC database that will allow you to look at district performance.

A DeKalb parent has already looked at that system’s scores and noted that, “If you go look at the score report, you will find that in 8th grade, DCSS had lower pass rates than either Clayton or Atlanta in 8th grade reading and math.  In fact, Clayton’s pass rate for reading (8th grade) was actually 2 percentage points higher than DeKalb.”

According to the AJC:

For example, among eighth …

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Clayton schools: Picking its teachers’ pockets to reduce its deficit?

Clayton teachers have been asking that I post a blog about their disappearing pay — here one minute, gone the next.

The story has changed over the last week, but here is a quick summation: Clayton required teachers and other contract employees to give back part of their salary to deal with a $49 million budget deficit. But last week a federal judge approved a temporary restraining order stopping Clayton from forcing contract employees to repay part of their salary.

This week the judge lifted the restraining order, enabling the district to go forward with its plan. But he also said that employees might be able to regain their money by filing breach of contract complaints against Clayton schools.

According to the AJC, the school board approved five furlough days in April for the 2010-11 school year to shore up the district’s budget. But in an unusual move, four of those days were billed retroactively, with contract employees required to repay money or have it subtracted from …

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Clayton no longer on probation with SACS. Congrats to system.

Breaking news, the Clayton County school district is no longer on probation by the accreditation agency SACS.

From the AJC story:

Clayton has taken a critical step forward, said Mark Elgart, President of AdvancED, the parent organization for SACS. “It doesn’t mean they don’t have challenges,” but the system has showed strong leadership and teamwork and are making all the right moves, he said.

Superintendent Edmond Heatley, hired to solve Clayton’s problems, said “We are still not where we want to be, but we are no longer where we used to be.” He quashed rumors circulating in the community that he was going to resign.

“Let me put those rumors to rest,” he said, promising he was not resigning and was  committed to Clayton County. He and board members said after the announcement at SACS headquarters in Alpharetta they can concentrate on boosting educational issues for students rather than focusing on the governance issues that caused the system so many problems.

Elgart said that …

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Whiz kid investors in Clayton fifth grade remind us that urban schools can excel

Coach Mike Harrell and (from left) fifth-graders Kenny Chong, Jacob Thomas and Jaylen Thompkins have won the state title for the Georgia Stock Market Game. (Bita Honarvar, bhonarvar@ajc.com)

Coach Mike Harrell and (from left) fifth-graders Kenny Chong, Jacob Thomas and Jaylen Thompkins have won the state title for the Georgia Stock Market Game. (Bita Honarvar, bhonarvar@ajc.com)

There are two Clayton County stories in the AJC today;  one is about a food fight at Lovejoy High School that resulted in 10 arrests. The other — and the one that deserves our attention — is a feature story on the financial whiz kids at E.W. Oliver Elementary School in Riverdale.

Food fights are an unfortunate but not unusual occurrence in schools. A Georgia Stock Market Game team of public school fifth graders beating more than  3,800 teams of students –including high schools with economics classes, private schools and home-school programs — is unusual.

According to the AJC story, this is only the fourth time in 31 years an elementary school has won the contest. A team from Oliver Elementary has three of those wins: in 2007, 2008 and this year.

Many posters here take the position that …

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Furloughs in Clayton. No performance pay yet in Cherokee.

As predicted, budget challenges for schools are not going away next year, although there is some brighter news out of DeKalb for teachers.

Here are some AJC stories as well as some info sent to me by teachers about Race to the Top-driven contracts:

DeKalb: The DeKalb school board Monday adopted a tentative $1.16 billion budget for 2011-12, which restores furlough days for district employees. (To be clear, that means that DeKalb canceled almost all the furlough days enacted last year.)

Clayton County: Clayton public school employees will get to keep $6.4 million in incentive pay but must take five furlough days by the end of June under a budget-cutting plan approved  Monday. The furlough days will help save the jobs of elementary school counselors and music and art teachers, but elementary gym teachers and those who work with students in in-school suspension programs weren’t so lucky. Even after a spirited debate to hang onto physical education positions, the board voted to …

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When money runs out, line up the usual suspects: Arts, music, PE and counselors

Remember those warnings that next year will even be tougher for schools than this year? It appears they were accurate.

The drastic reductions in staffing and programs under consideration in metro area school systems reflect the ongoing fallout from a bad economy. Clayton was considering one of the region’s most extreme responses: Cutting its school year by 37 days and adding two hours to each day. Instead, the county will lay off more than 75  elementary school art, music, physical education teachers and counselors despite opposition from parents  — the lost positions represent half of the arts, fine arts and PE staffs.

“I don’t see a way of saving a five-day school week and arts and music at the same time,” said Clayton Superintendent Edmond Heatley.

About 600 Clayton parents showed up at a meeting this week, most to protest the elimination of the positions that they say are essential to provide children with a well-rounded education. The superintendent says aggressive …

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Would accreditation loss lock APS kids out of colleges?

The AJC has a good piece on how the loss of accreditation could affect students’ prospect for colleges.

Tied to Atlanta’s probationary status by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, the news story cites the experiences of Clayton parents when that system lost its accreditation. (It has since regained it.) The reporter also interviews APS parents concerned over their children’s futures.

The story quotes admissions officials at UGA and Emory.

Among their comments:

“Most [colleges] will look at an applicant, especially if the circumstances are explained,” said J. Lynn Zimmerman, the senior vice provost for undergraduate education at Emory University.

Similar advice came from Nancy McDuff, the director of admissions at the University of Georgia.

“If a student comes from an unaccredited school, we have other ways to evaluate that student,” she said. “And here in Atlanta, we are certainly aware of the circumstances (at APS), and we won’t hold that against …

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